Real estate sales in New Westminster slid right along with the rest of Metro Vancouver this month, with single-family homes seeing the biggest price dip.
House prices in the city are down four per cent from last month, according to statistics from the Real Estate Association of B.C. Prices overall for New West properties - attached and detached homes - were down .3 per cent compared to December.
"Most of that decline was in detached homes, which fell four per cent year-over-year," said Brendon Ogmundson, an economist with the association. "Townhouses and apartments were down but basically flat.
"A lot of the weakness is going to come in the single-family detached market, which saw prices run up the past couple of years," he said.
Overall, sales in New West were down 19 per cent year-over-year.
But the numbers aren't as dim as the percentages indicate. There were 58 sales this January, down from 72 in January 2012.
"Small numbers mean big percent changes," Ogmundson explained.
Demand may have dwindled, but, overall, the market is balanced when considering sales to active listings, Ogmundson said.
"New listings fell about 16 per cent, so it looks like less people are listing their home than last year," he said, adding, "total inventory is up a little bit, but nothing too concerning."
New listings were down 16 per cent but active listings were up eight per cent.
The city is "more or less in line with the rest of the Greater Vancouver market," Ogmundson said.
"There is moderate demand, but also a decline in listings activities, so I think what we are seeing is sellers either taking their homes off the market or people deciding not to list because buyers are coming with offers, and they can't meet on a price."
He called it "normal market dynamics" where demand is a bit soft and supply is a bit higher than the norm.
"That's why we are seeing a bit of downward pressure on prices, but as we go through the year, if demand kind of stays around where we expect it to, which is a little softer than normal, I think we will see listings come down and prices should firm up."
The association is forecasting for prices to fall two to three per cent this year.
Ogmundson noted, single-family homes in Metro Vancouver are in short supply, which impacts demand.
"One thing that's probably affecting the market a bit in New West and other areas in the townhouse and apartment market is that because of the mortgage restrictions, first-time buyers are more constrained in what they can afford and then that has kind of a ripple affect," Ogmundson said.
The mortgage-tightening rules implemented by the federal government last summer were lowering the maximum amortization period on mortgages to 25 years from 30 years, lowering the maximum amount of refinancing, capping the maximum debt ratios for households and limiting government insurance to mortgages on homes that cost more than $1 million.
Ogmundson said the impact of new rules tends to "fade out" after a few quarters.